Feeds

99c iTunes song auction bids top $100,000

Test case opportunities a-plenty

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Update Does the owner of a legitimately bought and downloaded music track have the right to sell his or her copy? That's a question one George Hotelling wants answered and has put a track bought off Apple's iTunes Music Store up for auction on eBay to find out.

One thing is for certain: the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is going to be a whole lot wealthier when the auction ends on 9 September. Hotelling has promised to donate his profits to the NGO. He paid 99 cents for the song - bidding has already reached well in excess of $100,000.

Update Since we posted this story, the leading bidder reconsidered his or her rash offer, and withdrew from the auction. Bidding is now at $16,600. You can buy four Power Mac G5s for that.

It's certainly an interesting case. Buy a CD and you can sell it to on perfectly legally, provided you keep no copy. You do not need to seek the permission of the copyright owner, if there is one.

But is that the case with a downloaded track? Not all music services are the same. BuyMusic, for example, a Windows-only alternative to the Apple store, doesn't sell you music - it simply grants you a right to listen to it. Its Ts&Cs read like a software licence, in which you buy the right to use the code, not ownership of it.

Apple's service, by contrast, does appear to be in the business of selling product rather than usage rights, and that, just like a CD, by downloading one of its MPEG 4 audio tracks, you are purchasing that particular copy.

However, Apple's Ts&Cs do state that the buyer is purchasing the work for "personal, non-commercial" usage.

Of course, whoever buys the track may not be able to use it. Apple's DRM technology connects the downloaded song to a specific Mac, and the technology almost certainly hasn't been designed with such a change of ownership in mind. When the new buyer receives his (ridiculously expensive) song from Hotelling, iTunes will almost certainly refuse to play it.

Can the buyer then sue Apple for preventing him or her from using their legally acquired song? One interesting legal challenge prompts another. And a third: to what extent is the new owner bound by Apple's Ts&Cs? ®

Related Links

Hotelling's legal question
The auction

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.